Black & white & shades of gray

Oh, how simple life would be if everything were black and white. As a parent, I would never feel guilty that I gave this one this and not that one that. I would never be questioned why I let this one stay up later at a younger age than that one. I would always know the right thing to do. As a teacher, I could treat every student equally no matter his readiness or willingness. I would never be questioned why I let this one sit and read and asked that one to walk and talk. I would always know the right thing to do.

Life drops all kinds of tests and tasks in your lap, and the way in which you deal with them makes all the difference. It shows your outlook on fate and control; it shows your strengths and weaknesses. If it were easy, then we wouldn’t feel accomplished and driven.

Thus, I am frustrated when I am presented with people who are obstinately black and white and don’t permit themselves to see the shades of gray. They’ve gone as far to impose their views on others and restrict the successes that could be possible, if they would just let go of their own egos and selfish gains at stake to see the world with gray-colored glasses instead.

The last month or so, I’ve experienced a string of bad luck. There was an attempted break-in at my house over the summer. We lost power for almost a week due to Hurricane Irene. An earthquake shook our town spreading from DC. Significant changes were made in school (well-evidenced in public education overall) and to job responsibilities. My car was rear-ended at a red light during the rain and flooding from the tropical storm that skirted the Southeast. Schools were closing and residents evacuating and preparing for a couple more days of water-related issues. And every time I receive a text message back from my husband that says LOL, I realize that if I don’t keep laughing, I will drown in the storm.

I am grateful for the husband and family that I have supporting me, the friends and colleagues who are reaching out to me, and the stamina and fortitude that I know I have within me. If I only kept asking “why me?” and didn’t stand tall and forge forward, I would be victim to the mindset of black and white, wondering why I was being tested over and over. (I must admit I said that once or twice to a friend as I allowed myself to question whether I was losing my mind just then or living in some alternate universe.) Another good friend told me that when it rains, it pours, which was even funnier knowing that our dehumidifiers were running overtime in our basements in hopes that they’d soak up any rain (or evil goblins) that might seep in during the fourth day in a row of rain.

So, I would like to believe that people can appreciate the shades of gray in life, the subtleties that one learns to see when you have your own children and watch them make mistakes, when you teach others’ children and watch them walk in to your classroom with troubles they had no hand in carrying, and when you are faced with burdens and aggravation that rained down from the sky or crashed through your door for no apparent reason. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see how they fit, and remember that not everyone looks good in black and white.